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How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices That Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Business

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During the Soviet era, blat--the use of personal networks for obtaining goods and services in short supply and for circumventing formal procedures--was necessary to compensate for the inefficiencies of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union produced a new generation of informal practices. In How Russia Really Works, Alena V. Ledeneva explores practices in politics, bu During the Soviet era, blat--the use of personal networks for obtaining goods and services in short supply and for circumventing formal procedures--was necessary to compensate for the inefficiencies of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union produced a new generation of informal practices. In How Russia Really Works, Alena V. Ledeneva explores practices in politics, business, media, and the legal sphere in Russia in the 1990s--from the hiring of firms to create negative publicity about one's competitors, to inventing novel schemes of tax evasion and engaging in alternative techniques of contract and law enforcement. Ledeneva discovers ingenuity, wit, and vigor in these activities and argues that they simultaneously support and subvert formal institutions. They enable corporations, the media, politicians, and businessmen to operate in the post-Soviet labyrinth of legal and practical constraints but consistently undermine the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. The know-how Ledeneva describes in this book continues to operate today and is crucial to understanding contemporary Russia.


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During the Soviet era, blat--the use of personal networks for obtaining goods and services in short supply and for circumventing formal procedures--was necessary to compensate for the inefficiencies of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union produced a new generation of informal practices. In How Russia Really Works, Alena V. Ledeneva explores practices in politics, bu During the Soviet era, blat--the use of personal networks for obtaining goods and services in short supply and for circumventing formal procedures--was necessary to compensate for the inefficiencies of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union produced a new generation of informal practices. In How Russia Really Works, Alena V. Ledeneva explores practices in politics, business, media, and the legal sphere in Russia in the 1990s--from the hiring of firms to create negative publicity about one's competitors, to inventing novel schemes of tax evasion and engaging in alternative techniques of contract and law enforcement. Ledeneva discovers ingenuity, wit, and vigor in these activities and argues that they simultaneously support and subvert formal institutions. They enable corporations, the media, politicians, and businessmen to operate in the post-Soviet labyrinth of legal and practical constraints but consistently undermine the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. The know-how Ledeneva describes in this book continues to operate today and is crucial to understanding contemporary Russia.

51 review for How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices That Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Had a lot of, honestly, very interesting info. But it was also incredibly, incredibly dense, especially for someone who has little background in Russian history/politics/economics beyond the broad strokes.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Following up her previous study of Soviet Russia's underground economy of favors, Ledeneva tracks the disconcerting speed with which the system of "blat" transformed through cash into a vast network of "piar" (PR--good, incriminating and flat-out blackmail via "kompromat"), fraudulent accounting practices, personal links of influence (krugovaia poruka), tabloid newspapers, melodramatic lawyers and legions of undermeployed ex-KGB agents for hire. Following up her previous study of Soviet Russia's underground economy of favors, Ledeneva tracks the disconcerting speed with which the system of "blat" transformed through cash into a vast network of "piar" (PR--good, incriminating and flat-out blackmail via "kompromat"), fraudulent accounting practices, personal links of influence (krugovaia poruka), tabloid newspapers, melodramatic lawyers and legions of undermeployed ex-KGB agents for hire.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chase

    Ledeneva knows what's really going on in this country. My professor required this as one of the texts for the class and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are curious about the internal activities of Russia or find international politics/business interesting, you'll love this book. Ledeneva knows what's really going on in this country. My professor required this as one of the texts for the class and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are curious about the internal activities of Russia or find international politics/business interesting, you'll love this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I liked the Russias Economy of Favours a lot so I was hoping for something similar, but got a bit dissapointed. I am doing the research in this field, but the book didnt help me as much as I hoped.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Akshay

    great book

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nik

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emiliya Karaboeva

  8. 4 out of 5

    HKWL

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bergencw

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Kirwan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karolina

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Petruzzi McHale

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

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    Sadie

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    Johan Maurer

  19. 5 out of 5

    Travis

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Lauren

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mari Damasceno

  22. 5 out of 5

    S-A

  23. 4 out of 5

    Querdenkerin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steven Gonzales

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    Jennifer J.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alexey

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark Schrad

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Ihor Campagna

  29. 4 out of 5

    Oleksandr Hlushchenko

  30. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

  31. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  33. 4 out of 5

    Steve Richardson

  34. 5 out of 5

    Dominique

  35. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  36. 5 out of 5

    Mark Schrad

  37. 5 out of 5

    Cesar

  38. 5 out of 5

    Cara

  39. 4 out of 5

    Sabina

  40. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Shultz

  41. 5 out of 5

    Anna

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    Ghulam Mustafa

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    Maxim

  44. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Willardson

  45. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

  46. 5 out of 5

    Anton

  47. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah Berger

  48. 4 out of 5

    roonie

  49. 4 out of 5

    Nathalie

  50. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  51. 4 out of 5

    Don

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